Virtually everything we do these days relies on nuclear, gas, coal, oil, solar, geothermal or wind. But let’s go back to the basics, just for a minute ...
Back in the good old days, coal was mined to put in fireplaces and to power steam engines that pumped out the mines to dig up more coal. Then we had gas to light the street lamps and coal started to move said steam engines. Finally, we had electricity that revolutionised our progress in technology.
We also drilled in land and sea and made variants of crude oil and through learning that heating this black, liquid gold releases different fuels at different temperatures within a distillation column. This has helped fuel (pardon the pun!) our motor industries and global transport systems throughout the decades.
Within businesses, the increase in technology meant that we needed more and more plug sockets for our servers, PCs, laptops, mobile phones, phone systems, monitors, webcams/video conferencing units, lighting, air conditioning, CCTV and WiFi systems, and all the other equipment that has been added to our working environment over the past 40 years or so.
We now have electric cars to charge up and. from a purely logical point of view, where is that power coming from? Yes, we may not be using fossil fuels (petrol/diesel) to power the car, but we are still using electricity from the Grid (or maybe your own solar panels – which were manufactured in a factory that also uses power).
That power is probably still being generated by incumbent non-renewable processes. Even if we are using renewables such as wind turbines and solar panels, how are we manufacturing these colossal structures?
I think, that no matter what we do, at this late stage of trying to reverse the ecological damage that we have unwittingly caused in the name of progress, we are in a lose-lose situation!
Take the internet as another example. I have a theory that if we removed all of the self-indulgent posts, photos and videos that are purely for entertainment or in most cases to have to hook people into following some nonsense or another and making a minority rich through the least effort, we would use half of the electricity that we do on the vast computing power that we require to store all the useless reels of our dogs, cats and other non-educational content that we have in data centres around the world.
Equally, Apple, Google, Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft have all encouraged us to store our personal content on their cloud-based data centre hardware. This, in turn, uses vast amounts of electricity in the background to keep the servers at optimal temperatures by deploying cooling systems and backup generators in case of mains failure so we can still have access to our data.
Leased Lines and 10/100 Gigabit fibre optic circuits are intertwined throughout the whole country, weaving in and out of the aforementioned data centres and then 'back-hauling' to the 'International Network (OMG! The 'InterNet' - that's where it comes from!), connecting voice, video and static content and now, the 'Internet of Things' or 'IoT' devices as known for short.
And, of course, we are encouraged to use cloud phone systems to centralise the hardware and power usage, instead of us all having our own individual systems which also use internet systems!
Whichever way you look at it, our power consumption is going up, although there may be an overall efficiency in the end product. We are using power to make things that will eventually harness the power in different ways (such as solar panels and massive turbines).
Will the last one to leave the planet, please turn off the lights?
If you feel inspired to find out more then do call me on 07555 807700 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.